In the year or two after the Tiananmen tragedy, even the reformist approach
seemed likely to get short shrift in any reconsideration of press legislation. Given
the importance and reach of modem mass communications, however, the issues
surrounding the role of the news media in China's modernization and political
life were not about to disappear. One could anticipate that when debates on
journalism reform reemerged, they might be further along than where they left
off. For instance, they might give more weight to the claims of inherent entitlement that underlay student demonstrators' demands for freedom of the press in 1989. An important question for future study of China's press law efforts is
likely to be how incipient notions of natural rights blend with traditional emphases on the collectivity and social good. As for how the press law that eventually
emerges would actually work, and the extent to which even an expansively
worded law might further freedom of the press in China in practice, this surely
will hinge on larger developments in Chinese politics and society in the years to
Xinwen zhanxian ( News battlefront), 1989, no. 1, p. 18.
Renmin ribao ( People's daily), 3 September 1989, pp. 1-2.
Andrew J. Nathan, Chinese Democracy ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), pp. 108-9.
See discussion of this common understanding in Xinwen chuban bao (Press and
publications journal), 27 January 1988, p. 3.
On the press corps' role in the upheaval of 1989, see Michael J. Berlin, "Chinese Journalists Cover (and Join) the Revolution", Washington Journalism Review, September 1989, pp. 33-37: Donald R. Shanor, "The 'Hundred Flowers' of Tiananmen", 3 Gannett
Center Journal, no. 4 ( Fall 1989), pp. 128-36; Frank Tan, "The People's Daily: Politics
and Popular Will--Journalistic Defiance in China During the Spring of 1989", 63 Pacific
Affairs, no. 2 ( Summer 1990), pp. 151-69.
Reports on arrests of Chinese journalists after June 1989 are available from watchdog organizations such as the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and Asia
The most prominent of these were the Shanghai weekly Shijie jingii daobao ( World
economic herald) and the magazine Xinguancha ( New observer). One government source
told me in the spring of 1990 that about 400 publications had been shut down or merged,
many for reasons related to economic management and only a small proportion for political reasons. This was the second wave of closings and mergers; on an earlier consolidation drive in 1987, see note 82.
On the journalism reform movement, see Kenneth Starck and
Yu Xu, "Loud Thunder, Small Raindrops: The Reform Movement and the Press in China", 42 Gazette, no. 3
( 1988), pp. 143-59.
The Four Cardinal Principles were raised not long after the launching of China's
economic reform program in late 1978; see Deng Xiaoping, "Uphold the Four Cardinal
Principles", March 1979, in Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, 1975-1982 ( Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1984), pp. 166-91. In reference to the press, see speech by Jiang
Zemin, appointed party general secretary after Tiananmen, reported in Renmin ribao of 30 November 1989, p. 1, with full text published 2 March 1990, pp. 1, 4; and speech by Li
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Domestic Law Reforms in Post-Mao China.
Contributors: Pitman B. Potter - Editor.
Publisher: M. E. Sharpe.
Place of publication: Armonk, NY.
Publication year: 1994.
Page number: 264.
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